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Staghorn Sumac

=Habitat and Range.=--In widely varying soils and localities; river

banks, rocky slopes to an altitude of 2000 feet, cellar-holes and waste

places generally, often forming copses.

From Nova Scotia to Lake Huron.

Common throughout New England.

South to Georgia; west to Minnesota and Missouri.

=Habit.=--A shrub, or small tree, rarely exceeding 25 feet in height;

trunk 8-10 inches in diameter; branches straggling, thickish, mostly

crooked when old; branchlets forked, straight, often killed at the tips

several inches by the frost; head very open, irregular, characterized by

its velvety shoots, ample, elegant foliage, turning in early autumn to

rich yellows and reds, and by its beautiful, soft-looking crimson cones.

=Bark.=--Bark of trunk light brown, mottled with gray, becoming dark

brownish-gray and more or less rough-scaly in old trees; the season's

shoots densely covered with velvety hairs, like the young horns of deer

(giving rise to the common name), the pubescence disappearing after two

or three years; the extremities dotted with minute orange spots which

enlarge laterally in successive seasons, giving a roughish feeling to

the branches.

=Winter Buds and Leaves.=--Buds roundish, obtuse, densely covered with

tawny wool, sunk within a large leaf-scar. Leaves pinnately compound,

1-2 feet long; stalk hairy, reddish above, enlarged at base covering the

axillary bud; leaflets 11-31, mostly in opposite pairs, the middle pair

longest, nearly sessile except the odd one, 2-4 inches long; dark green

above, light and often downy beneath; outline narrow to broad-oblong or

broad-lanceolate, usually serrate, rarely laciniate, long-pointed,

slightly heart-shaped or rounded at base; stipules none.

=Inflorescence.=--June to July. Flowers in dense terminal, thyrsoid

panicles, often a foot in length and 5-6 inches wide; sterile and

fertile mostly on separate trees, but sterile, fertile, and perfect

occasionally on the same tree; calyx small, the 5 hairy,

ovate-lanceolate sepals united at the base and, in sterile flowers,

about half the length of the usually recurved petals; stamens 5,

somewhat exserted; ovary abortive, smooth; in the fertile flowers the

sepals are nearly as long as the upright petals; stamens short; ovary

pubescent, 1-celled, with 3 short styles and 3 spreading stigmas.

=Fruit.=--In compound terminal panicles, 6-10 or 12 inches long, made up

of small, dryish, smooth-stoned drupes densely covered with acid,

crimson hairs, persistent till spring.

=Horticultural Value.=--Hardy throughout New England. Grows in any

well-drained soil, but prefers a deep, rich loam. The vigorous growth,

bold, handsome foliage, and freedom from disease make it desirable for

landscape plantations. It spreads rapidly from suckers, a single plant

becoming in a few years the center of a broad-spreading group. Seldom

obtainable in nurseries, but collected plants transplant easily.

The cut-leaved form is cultivated in nurseries for the sake of its

exceedingly graceful and delicate foliage.

1. Winter buds.

2. Branch with staminate flowers.

3. Staminate flower.

4. Branch with pistillate flowers.

5. Pistillate flower.

6. Fruit cluster.

7. Fruit.

=Rhus Vernix, L.=

Rhus venenata, DC.

Next: Dogwood Poison Sumac Poison Elder

Previous: Anacardiaceae Sumac Family

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